Turpentine is truly nasty stuff! Although it’s made from a natural material rather than a chemical compound (it’s made out of the sap from pine trees), it can do serious damage to an oil painter that doesn’t utilize proper ventilation. Turpentine inhaled in large doses can cause severe respiratory, eye and skin disorders. Being aware of its ill side effects, I used to simply keep my door wide open while working in my studio to get a proper airflow going. Problem is, it gets mighty cold in the winter! In an effort to both stay warm and keep myself free of a toxicity overdose, I recently built a turpentine exhaust system in my studio. I’m sure other artists have encountered this problem. Here’s how I solved it:
I built a small table that attaches to my easel where an exhaust duct can sit and suck up all those evil fumes as they evaporate from the turp jar. The duct is attached to the table by a simple clamp, so that it can be released and repositioned if the easel is moved. Here’s a little in progress still life I’ve been working on for some practice : )
The duct goes up to the ceiling where it’s attached by some simple hooked wires, and descends to a window fan on the other side. The turpentine fumes never enter the room- they’re sucked out immediately by the exhaust duct and go outside instead.
The window fan is a cheap model I bought at Target. It’s not terribly quiet, but it gets the job done. I may upgrade to a version with a lower hum, but for now I’m happy with it. I got the duct from Home Depot- it’s 8′ of 3″ diameter aluminum, and the piece that’s taped to the window fan is a 3″ to 6″ diameter converter so that the fan can suck out fumes more efficiently. Altogether, I purchased all the supplies necessary for just under $50.00. Take that, evil turpentine fumes!